Three Must Haves for Strong Sales Leadership
Managing a sales team is a complex and challenging job. It’s also a very different job within companies of varying revenue sizes. In some cases, you’ll need to be a front-line seller, in others, you’ll need to be a sales strategy master. Yet in all sales leadership positions, you’ll have to have command of more than just sales skills, you’ll need to be able to lead others.
#1--Strong Leaders Know Building Relationships is a High Priority
As in sales, leadership requires relationship building skills. People won’t buy from people they don’t like. They also won’t buy from people who have no interest in their personal welfare. Likewise, teams don’t buy from leaders who aren’t invested in their people. Leaders who know about their colleagues will fair better than those who treat teammates like revenue numbers on a spreadsheet.
Leaders learn about the people they spend 10 to 12 hours a day with. They find out where they are from, what they like to do, what inspires them, why they chose sales as their career, what their proudest accomplishments are, and what advice they want to pass on to their children. Getting to know colleagues is important. Leaders don’t let thoughts of future terminations, PIP plans, and other tough conversations prohibit relationship building efforts.
#2--Strong Sales Leaders Value Executive Buy-In. The Know the Must Have it to Support their Team
Getting the right resources, infrastructure, and executive support is essential. Strong sales leaders achieve executive buy-in to help drive change. Change can’t take place without the right power base supporting the effort.
Sales leaders who garner support across the organization and at the right levels make immediate and impactful changes. They can provide the sales team with the necessary resources and support needed to achieve revenue goals.
However, sales leaders who are unable to secure high levels of executive support won’t be able to drive the change needed to gain the trust and confidence of the sales team. These are the VP’s you see turning over in a company every twelve to twenty-four months.
#3--Strong Sales Leaders Promote and Foster a Supportive and Respectful Environment
Sales is not an easy job. The last thing salespeople need is a critic for a boss. Sales leaders who are supportive, available, and willing to help tend to have the longest job tenure. It’s always easy to be a critic, but providing the sales team with coaching, resources, respect, and recognition requires continuous effort.
Hiring right to begin with also helps. According to Paul Marciano, the author of Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work, “When hiring, your first concern should be to find people who are going to actively support and contribute to your organization’s culture. Incorporate discussions about respect and your corporate culture into your interviewing and orientation process….”
The right leaders create team environments that produce results, support teamwork, and share knowledge. Leaders make every team member stronger through their influence. John Wooden couldn’t have said it better, “Success is giving 100 percent of your effort, body, mind and soul to the struggle.” Strong leaders are always giving 100%.